Cricket Australia’s explanation was quite simple. Gabba had missed out on being one of the venues for the Border-Gavaskar series during India’s 2018/19 tour. India played the opener at Adelaide and second at Perth during their last visit. Hence, Gabba was selected over Perth for the impending series this December. However, it was also assured that both the venues will be included if there is a future plan of extending the Border-Gavaskar series to a five-Test contest.
Cricket Australia had announced its international home fixture for the summer of 2020/21 on Thursday with India tour being the highlight. Based on the tour, India will open the Test series at the Gabba, play a pink-ball Test at the Adelaide and the Boxing Day Test and New Year’s Test will be played at the MCG and SCG respectively.
With Perth missing out on the all-important fixture, Western Australia cricket chief reckoned that this season is “a kick in the guts” for fans in Perth. The venue will instead host the one-off Pink-ball Test against Afghanistan this summer.
However, for Australia, it has ben an alternative affair. For Ashes both the venues are selected becauyse it comprises of five Tests. But the Border-Gavaskar series has traditionally been of four Tests implying either between Gabba or Perth will miss out.
“If Perth received the India Test (this year) it would mean that Perth would have hosted two England Tests and two India Tests over the eight-year cycle for a total of four … whereas Brisbane would have only hosted two,” Roberts said.
“So that would have created an imbalance over the cycle of the Future Tours Programme.
“And in the national interest and ensuring we take high-profile Test matches to cricket fans in Queensland, it was a more well-balanced solution. Assuming, of course, that we could get full crowds in play, that’s when this schedule was determined.
“The more balanced solution was to play the India Test in Brisbane, meaning over the eight-year cycle it would see Perth hosting three Tests against India and England and Brisbane also hosting three Tests against India and England.”
The scenario was the same back in 2014/15 series when Brisbane was opted over Perth. But on Thursday, WACA CEO Christina Matthews revealed that they were told that the WACA ground “wasn’t good enough”. With a new Perth Stadium ready, Matthews expected a guaranteed marquee fixture every year.
“The last time (in 2014), we were told it was because our venue wasn’t good enough and if we supported a new stadium, this would never happen again,” she said. “And here we are again.
“All the metrics associated with cricket over the last two years see us surpass Brisbane in every area; whether that’s crowds, broadcast ratings, even better rainfall at that time of year, more corporate seats – just so many indicators – and a brand-new stadium.
“The biggest issue for us is the (WA) government invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to make Perth Stadium cricket-friendly from the start … and at the time Cricket Australia gave a guarantee to the government that they would absolutely be utilising that stadium to the fullest.”
But would the Aussie team not want to play at the Gabba? They hold an imposing record at the venue, being undefeated in 31 matches since 1988 at the Gabba – the longest active unbeaten streak in Test cricket at a single venue. Hence, an opener at Gabba would imply that Australia would look to stretch that record and make a winning start to their bid to reclaim the trophy from India.